Enjoy Scandinavia without the long flight!

A while ago, I was invited to write a post about Scandinavian books and have reproduced some sections and updated others here:

Have you ever dreamt of visiting Scandinavia: the lands that gave us Ikea, Santa Claus, and Hans Christian Andersen? Perhaps you have thought of getting close and personal with a Viking in the fjords of Norway, or the unique landscape of Iceland, but have found neither the time nor the funds?

You can still experience the arctic world without leaving the comfort of your own home through the literary works of Scandinavians. Gaining popularity here not just because they write good crime mysteries, but also because they focus more on story and descriptive plot, giving the reader an impression of, “being there.”

So select your destination and read on:


Visit the fairy tale land of Denmark through the eyes of writer Elsebeth Egholm, an excellent crime fiction writer, (Title: Next of Kin), set in the author’s hometown of Århus. Or you could get a feeling for Greenland and snow with Peter Høeg’s thriller “Smilla’s Feeling for Snow”, or even watch the 1997 movie version of the same name, starring Julia Ormond. But if historical fiction is more your thing, Per Olov Enquist will transport you to the Danish royal court of King Christian VII of Denmark and the 1700’s – the time of ‘enlightenment,’ with a tale of romance, lust, treachery and intrigue.


A short train ride from Copenhagen, takes one to Sweden, across the Bridge over the Oresund, which is a central theme on the TV series, “The Bridge” (available on DVD). The first season was so popular a second one is set to come. Most people are familiar with Henning Mankell’s ‘Wallander’ books and film, but there are many other Swedish authors whose writings bring Sweden into your own home. Camilla Lackberg is an author who writes about Fjallbacka, a small town on the Swedish Bohuslan coast, with journalist turned home-maker Erica Falck, helping out her policeman husband solve puzzling murder mysteries such as The Ice Princess, which is first in the series.

No one can dispute Stieg Larson’s, ‘Millenium Trilogy’ has brought Swedish crime fiction to Hollywood, and the world, but not everyone likes crime fiction, even if it is Scandinavian. ‘Hanna’s daughters,’ (a story of three generations of woman and their journeys through life’s stages), together with  ‘Inge and Mira’, and ‘Simon and the Oaks’, are three fiction novels of human drama, peppered with a little history, and a central theme of  “friendship,” which the author believes, is more important than family.

Karin Altvegen’s describes marginal life in Sweden’s suburban fringes, in the psychological thriller, ‘Shame” whilst John Ajvide Lindqvist’s “Let the right one in”- is a horror fiction story about vampires, but don’t let that put you off. I would never read a story on vampires, yet this one is a more intimate account of childhood bullying than vampires themselves and, furthermore, was made into a successful movie, then remade by Hollywood. Very atmospheric and highly recommended!

Finally, Lars Kepler is selling out in bookstores as his atypical but brilliant Finnish detective solves even the most brutal and complicated crimes in a most unusual way. I would suggest The Hynoptist and The Fire Witness.

Hungry? Time for a coffee break? Enhance the full Scandinavian experience with an authentic Norwegian Waffle with Swedish Cloudberry Jam and cream?   Recipe found here


Waffles are delicious while reading works by Norwegian writers: Jo Nesbø with the infamous Harry Hole, Karin Fossum, whose character exist on the fringes of society, or Anne Holt, former Norwegian Justice Minister turned crime writer, with her detective Hanne Wilhelmsen series.Recently, I read “Finse 1222”, set at one of the highest points along the Oslo-Bergen train line, wherein Holt’s descriptions of a winter snowstorm are so real, that when you read it, you will be shovelling snow in your dreams. Again, if you prefer something that does not have dead bodies, I recommend Per Pettersen, (To Siberia, Out Stealing Horses) or Jostein Gaarder (Sophie’s World – a Fiction story that introduces you to philosophy in a fascinating way).


Finally, your Scandinavian tour is complete when you get a taste for Icelandic landscapes and culture in Arnaldur Indridason’s police procedurals: Jar City, Arctic Chill, and Hypothermia. (my favourite detective stories), or a depiction of Icelandic rural life, is found in Halldor Laxness’, “Iceland’s Bell.”

Travel fiction of note:

Andrew Stevensen – Non- Fiction; “Summer light”; A Walk across Norway. Not a Scandinavian writer, but nevertheless a great travel account.

True North – Gavin Francis: Travels in the Arctic, following the travels of ancient Nordic explorers.

I recommend checking out Euro crime for seeking details of other Scandinavian authors and further listings of individual Scandinavian titles to ponder about. Bon Voyage!!


Something Scandinavian to Ponder About


29 thoughts on “Enjoy Scandinavia without the long flight!”

  1. ‘The Bridge’ was brilliant. We hardly watch TV but something as good as that series was we would stay home and watch it. Can’t wait for the next series. Actually, most of the Scandinavian crime series and political TV shows were brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aren’t they? They certainly do a magnificent job. The Killing series 1,2 and 3 always had me guessing the killer was a different person each week. Fabulous.


  2. Great post Amanda 🙂 I can’t get enough of the Scandinavian crime/political TV series that have been on over the last few years, but I hadn’t considered reading some Scandinavian authors. Their stories are so much more complex and interesting than anything we get in the UK (which unfortunately is getting to be more and more American series – no offence to any US citizens, but most of their TV is very ‘dumbed down’ 😦 for the most part).


    1. I have to warn you, Andy! Reading these authors does spoil you. You may, like me, become a Scandophilic book snob!! LOL! I do find it hard to read other authors because the Scandinavian books are so much more descriptive – they just pull me in. It is really no contest! So you have been warned! The TV shows are just a taster of the books!!!

      Liked by 1 person

            1. I am not sure what is available at your local library or bookshop so I will go with the one that is most popular. The Stieg Larson Millennium trilogy or Jo Nesbø. He has a series as well as a few stand alones. For something lighter try Camilla Lackberg. Also a series. Ice Princess is the first. I am fairly sure they would be available most places.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. Thanks Amanda, I’ll make a note of these 🙂 At present I’m reading ‘The Dark Tower’ books (Stephen King) at the behest of my oldest son. It will often take me a few weeks to read a book – there always seems to be something else that’s more important that needs doing 😦 Before the internet, I used to read all the time!!

              Liked by 1 person

            3. I know Andy, that is story of my life too! Although I make sure I read at lunchtime at work or travelling on the bus.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. I intend to read some of your recommendations, Amanda, once I get back into reading more regularly. I’ve seen a few Scandinavian crime series pop onto the TV but haven’t had time to sit and watch, as yet. I intend to rectify all this some time next year. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good luck with that plan,Millie. We are lucky enough that we have catch up tv now so ine can easily fit TV viewing into a schedule that suits our lifestyle. Do you have something similar whetein you are not constrained to certain timeslots for scheduled shows?

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      1. We record most of the things we want to watch on general TV so that we can watch them when we’re able. At the moment, I’m tending to head out to my room to work for at least a couple of hours at night, so TV is somewhat on hold. We’ll probably have months worth of programmes to watch before long. Catch up TV only works for a week, doesn’t it? I’m sure we have it, but rarely use it. I need a longer time scale.


        1. Our Special broadcasting service channel which has foreign films, allows us to watch certain shows for up to a month. A week, is probably too narrow a time frame, so I can see why it is little help to you. I also like to work later at night, when the weather cools a little. All of a sudden with the start of November, I start uttering, ” OH, it is SO hot!” several times a day and it is really the humidity more than the heat itself. So I am guessing it might have got suddenly colder at your end of the planet? In any case, winter may give you a little more time to catch up on things indoors?


    1. I am not sure where you live Melanie, but I am in Australia, and I would also love to live in Scandinavia. Although I would choose to live in Denmark, and holiday in the rest of Scandinavia. It is my perfect destination!! Have you visited any parts of Scandinavia?


      1. Yes, last year I went to Denmark and Sweden to visit my cousins that I hadn’t seen since 1965. I took with me a book on Norse Mythology and a Camilla Lackberg book. I had wanted to find the Selma Lagerlof book called The Wonderful Adventures of Nils about a boy who flies over Sweden on the back of a goose. It’s famous in Denmark and Sweden.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes I have heard of that story of Nils and have read Camilla’s books. Even visited Fjallbacka and Tannumshede but Patrick wasn’t at home!!!
          I was given a book on icelandic sagas but it was pretty heavy going.
          Did you like the book on Norse mythology?


          1. I went to Fjallbacka and to see the Tanum petroglyphs. The Norse gods were hard to keep track of – there were a lot of them, especially in the beginning. The book was by Neil Gaiman and apparently was a NY Times bestseller – it was good but confusing.

            Liked by 1 person

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